The university experience is a complete whirlwind. Whilst it can be daunting, exciting, and all-encompassing, this phase in your life is ultimately one of the best. In this post, we’ve compiled the top 10 skills to help you survive university.
For many, it can be challenging balancing 9 am lectures and the hangovers. At times this can be overwhelming to someone coming straight from secondary school. University brings a new sense of independence, and you can ease the transition by using these tips and tricks that will ensure you have a stress free start to your year.
Top skill number 1- Budgeting
For some, university is the first time that they have to fend for themselves. These new expenses can become a cause for alarm. Sometimes the student finances payments just don’t quite cut it, so many rely on part-time jobs to fund their lifestyles. One thing that I would recommend is finding work with your university, as their jobs are accommodating to the student timetable. Many are zero-hour contracts, and they involve you working with fellow peers. Not only is it an amazing opportunity to earn money but it is also amazing for making friends!
In order to budget, make a list of everything you think of as potential outgoings (regular spending). It is vital that you live within your means to avoid slipping into the dreaded overdraft! Whilst dipping into your overdraft is not the end of the world, sometimes it’s essential, avoid it if you can. By factoring in rent, food shops, nights out, public transport, etc, you can know how much you need. Doing this allows you to ensure you have that money readily available, so you no longer have to worry.
Number 2- Time Management
When you start university you are likely to be given your timetable a week or so before your course starts. You may also have a part-time job to keep you on top of your bills. Therefore, time management skills are essential. Know where you need to be, at what time, on which day. University can be filled with plans and social activities. Don’t let a party get in the way of your studies or work.
Prepare a weekly schedule. Know when you need to put time aside for studying and when you can relax. Work into it your meal plan, cleaning routine, any sport or society you are a part of. You are expected to do a lot of your work from home. If you don’t manage your time efficiently, you can risk lowering your grade.
Skill number 3- Cooking and Meal Planning
Meal planning is vital for remaining cost-effective and nutritious. Helping you to stay on budget whilst also fuelling your body with the nutrients needed to push you through freshers week!
Cooking can be daunting for many who have not needed to cook previously. However, learning simple dinners that you can rotate weekly is quick and easy. In the summer before university, you can learn to cook stir fries and the student staple of pesto pasta. Starting simple and then expanding is the best way of growing your culinary expertise. Batch cooking – making larger portions of food such as a chilli con Carne can be frozen. You can have leftovers ready for when you don’t feel like cooking, all you have to do is defrost it.
Where you shop is a big part of university preparation. Opting for cost-effective supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl, you can easily cut costs. This helps save your money for nights out rather than baked beans.
Number 4- Laundry
Whilst you are in first year halls, the university offers washing machines and dryers within your accommodation. Some universities give you a card to put money onto to tap on the machines, starting the wash. In others you will need to make sure you have some change readily available (save your pound coins!). Sometimes, the machines don’t have slots for softener and detergent, but it is an easier option to just use laundry tablets. I recommend using colour catchers so that you don’t have to worry about colours mixing. It also makes your laundry more cost effective because you don’t have to pay for separate washes for colours and whites.
Skill number 5 (our favourite!)- Cleaning
Many students can become lazy when it comes to cleaning. Their houses end up smelling, bins overflow, dishes need to be cleaned and ultimately mould starts to grow. We know as when cleaning student accommodation we’ve seen it all! Creating a cleaning rota can help ensure that your housemates also put in the work. Regularly taking out the rubbish and recycling helps prevent clutter. Washing up after your meals will also help stop food from growing mould and attracting flies.
A clean home is a happy home, even if it is just temporary accommodation. You can invite people over and won’t be ashamed or disgusted with where you live. Your student accommodation is a big part of your university experience. Ensuring it is a home you are comfortable living in can make all the difference.
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Top skill number 6- Touch Typing and Quick Reading
Touch typing is the practice of typing using all one’s fingers without looking at the keys. Many of us do this instinctually now as we begin to memorise the keyboard through consistent use of it. The quicker that we type, the faster we complete our work. There are many touch typing courses you can do online to practice and get your speed up. One free touch typing website that is a great place to start is Typing Club.
As for quick reading, this is definitely a skill that you need at University. This is because university reading lists can be extensive, but you are still expected to stay on top of all of your work. In order to condense your reading, you can prioritise the texts based on what your lecturers recommend. Skim through the chapters and highlight which are most important to your course. You can then focus on these sections and draw what information you need. Life Hack has a great post highlighting 10 ways to increase your reading speed.
Top competence number 7- Mental Health
The complete change of lifestyle enforced by university can be a lot to handle. It is important that you focus on yourself, as much as you are focusing on socialising. By taking precious time for yourself and allowing yourself the occasional treat, you prioritise yourself. It is never selfish to take some time to yourself in your bedroom. Of course you never want to be a hermit, but everyone will understand if you just need some down time. Similarly, it is important to remember that there are always people to speak to. Whether that be your friends or family from home, your new friends at university or the university itself.
Universities also offer wellbeing services. They will always have people readily available if you are struggling and want to book an appointment. Furthermore, there are many resources available online that can offer advice. Your university may also provide a personal mentor who will be there to answer your questions and concerns.
Mastery number 8- Societies
A great way of making friends is by joining societies that you feel would be of interest to you. It’s a common misconception that you are going to befriend your flatmates and be friends for life. This is not always the case. Therefore, to maximise your opportunities, societies are an amazing way of socialising and pursuing things that you never have before. Universities offer a plethora of societies, including memberships to course-related, musical, and sporting societies to name a few. There is even the option to start your own society! Check your University’s website for more information on how to join.
Number 9- Staying Connected
University can lead to many feeling lost, so it is vital that you stay connected to your friends and family. Speaking to a familiar face is endlessly comforting and even if you don’t really want to, a phone call to your parents would never go amiss! Depending on how far away you are, some students also like to take the weekend off to visit their homes. You don’t always have to wait for the holidays.
Top skill number 10 (which is the most important!)- Having Fun
Most importantly, university is all about having fun. Whilst it is vital to balance your finances and your work life, you need to seize every opportunity that’s available. It is important that you look back upon your time with no regrets, even if that also involves looking back on a few hangovers too.
So here you have it, our top 10 skills to help you survive university life. Enjoyed reading this post? Share it with your friends and family and any student starting Univeristy that you think may benefit from this post.